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Talking about your chronic pain can be hard. You feel like you’re having to justify something that people can’t see or will never fully understand. But when you are ready to do so, it’s important to be brave and you will find that there are plenty of benefits of talking about your chronic pain.
You can get the professional support you need
Firstly, and probably most importantly, talking about your chronic pain can help you get the support you need. This may be with a medical professional to help get the right medication, or try new types of treatment or pain management options.
It could be opening up and speaking to someone to help you cope better, and manage the wider symptoms of chronic pain such as depression, anxiety and stress. It is just as important to deal with the mental aspects of chronic pain and having the opportunity of talking about your chronic pain is one part of this.
You can get the right adjustments to help you stay in work
If you are working, then being open and honest about how your pain is affecting you can lead to getting the right workplace adjustments to help you cope better and to stay in work.
I have had numerous adjustments over the years, and without these, I wouldn’t be able to do my job. These include a height adjustable desk, taking a break every 30 minutes to ensure I keep moving as much as I can, and working from home.
You won’t feel so alone
Taking that first step and talking about things can be a huge step in realising that you are not alone. This is extremely powerful. When someone ‘gets it’ it can be very comforting, and it’s like a huge weight is lifted off your shoulders.
I often speak to people who find it embarrassing or shameful to talk about their pain, or their condition and symptoms; they feel it defines who they are. Life does change when you have a health condition or a disability, but it should not dictate who you are or what you do.
How to talk about your chronic pain
Knowing where to start is the hardest bit. How do you suddenly start talking about your chronic pain and bring it in to conversation? A useful website to have a look at it is how to explain your chronic pain to others.
You don’t have to go in to lots of detail, but the main points to talk about include:
- What pain you suffer and where, what causes it (if you know), and how it affects you.
- Use a pain scale from 0-10 to explain how your pain fluctuates on different days. 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain.
- Explain how the pain affects you and what things you can and cannot do when your pain is bad.
- Describe what your pain is like to help people understand.
- Talk about your treatment and medication and how it helps, and what side effects you may suffer.
I’ve found that the more I’ve talked about my chronic pain, the more support I’ve had and the more I’ve learned to cope with it. Although other people will never fully understand what it’s like to have my chronic pain, they’ve learned to understand it more and this makes me feel better.
Do you find it hard to talk about chronic pain?
Once you did start to talk about it, did you get the support you needed?
How did you feel?